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The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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Us 53, Adam Lanza 21, Connecticut 15, Nra 10, Lanza 9, Cnn 9, Washington 9, Sandy 7, Syria 7, Newtown 7, Columbine 6, Mourning 6, Jessica Rekos 5, U.s. 5, Asperger 5, Lisa 5, Geico 5, Nancy Lanza 5, Susan Candiotti 4, Volkswagen 4,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    December 18, 2012
    1:00 - 3:59pm PST  

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a small step back to normal today in this connecticut town
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that is scarred forever. most newtown students went back to school for the first time since the massacre with police standing guard. two more young victims are buried, and the man involved in the investigation tells me about the horrors he saw inside the sandy hook elementary school. >> the crime scene itself is something that has made a mark in all of our minds. the task of that responsibility with the crime scene is something that we will never be able to erase. >> there will never be a good enough explanation why 20 elementary students were gunned down but we all need answers. i'm wolf blitzer reporting from
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newtown connecticut. state police is working around the clock. their investigation of the school massacre is very methodical and very, very painful. joining us now, lieutenant paul vance. he's become the face, the spokesman of this investigation. the connecticut state police. lieutenant vance, we're here in your office in middletown, connecticut. i know it must be hard on the journalists so it must be so much more hard on the men and women that work at the connecticut state police. what has it been like? >> it's been a horrible, tragic scene. the initial response was just horrific. the men and woman that risked their lives going in there trying to stop the aggression, trying to stop the shooting and carnage and rescue as many people as they could truly put their lives on the line but even
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more so, the faculty, the staff, the teachers that tried and did protect many of those children. there's good and bad but our hearts are just simply broken just due to the fact that 26 people died in that building. >> how are the men and women of the connecticut state police, the first responders, how are they doing? >> they are working through this. we provide counseling and employee assistance to them. they are human beings also but we have to work through these types of things. the day will come where we will sit down and truly hit a wall and have to really talk it out. but it's what they are trained to do and the men and women have risen to the occasion and they are working 24 hours a day and will continue working until we rectify and answer all of the questions around what happened. >> which raises the question, what happened? why? how could this happen in the middle of connecticut in a beautiful little town? i guess the key question is, why? do we have an answer? >> we don't have an answer yet. we've got a number -- a number
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of major crime detectives, our forensic people, we have all our experts, all of our expertise, we have our toolbox wide open and we've got everyone involved. and it's not just us. we're being assisted by the newtown police, federal police is helping us. we've got to answer those questions. we've got to determine how and why this happened. we've got to put this puzzle together and paint a crystal clear picture to try to answer you will of the questions surrounding this case. >> in your mind -- and you know a lot more than the rest of us, in your mind, do you have a pretty good idea why this shooter went into the school and killed those kids and teempers? >> not at all. we're way too early and i know that sounds almost four days after the fact but we're way too early. we've got so much work to do. so much evidence to examine, so much additional interviews to conduct. it's going to be time consuming but we've got to do all that work.
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leave no stone unturned. >> when you say no interviews, i assume you're talking to his family members? are they cooperating? >> absolutely. >> and they have their ideas? >> sure. >> do we know if he was under medication, if he had a mental illness, do we know issues like that? >> i don't know personally. i do know the best way i can explain it is, we have teams and detectives that will look at that facet. we'll have teams and detectives that will look at the weapons, the weaponry and trace them from the minute they came off the assembly line until the time we seized them, who's hands they were in. all the answers, the ammunition, where it was purchased, by whom, all of that stuff. and we truly have boots on the ground, good old shoe leather police work. men and women are going to go out there and get these answers. >> is there a, as best as you know, a suicide note? >> i do not know. i do know that we've executed search warrants at the secondary crime scene which was a private
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residence. we did extract a great deal of evidence. that i do know. >> from the home? >> yes. >> where the shooter lived? >> that's correct. >> with his mother? >> that's correct. but i don't have a detailed notice of what that evidence is. i just know that it's extremely helpful. >> because the reports are that his computer had been damaged, the hard drive had been damaged and you're trying to come up with some soef waited way to come up with information on that hard drive? >> it's interesting that that information is out there. the way we do these types of cases is, i am the only spokesman relative to this investigation. the only person who has personal knowledge of what we can and can can't say. i don't even know what was seized in that house. the investigators have not provided me with that information because we don't detail the evidence. but suffice it to say, if there was a computer there, any electronic evidence there, it was seized. we have a forensic laboratory that can analyze that evidence. any forensic evidence that is was seized at that scene can go to our scientific lab.
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certainly we'll examine it all and hopefully it will help us to a conclusion. >> in your mind, do you have any idea why he killed his mother? >> i don't. >> is his father helping you? >> i'm sure we'll talk to family members as this case evolves. there's certain steps and strategies that we have in this case, certainly the first was right in newtown itself, getting as many answers as we can for the families of these deceased victims. one thing that we did do is we provided a trooper with each family. that he was like an umbilical cord to afford these victims' families direct contact to this investigation so that any questions or any issues that they might have, we would certainly be able to instantaneously give them answers and help. we didn't want them to see, for example, something on the news about this case without them knowing firsthand. we're going to continue to do that. >> 26 troopers dealing with 26 families? >> that's correct, sir.
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>> so there's a trooper assigned to each family. his older brother, i assume you're talking to him, he's cooperating? >> we've reached out overstate lines and had assistance from outside -- >> because he was living in hoboken, new jersey? >> yes and certainly they are assisting us wherever we require. >> it's a tough one. have you ever had anything as tough as this in your career? how long have you been with the connecticut state police? >> i just started my 39th year and this is the most horrific incident i've ever been involved in. >> i was over at the firehouse yesterday. i walked around. you had just left. i was hoping to meet you there but you had just left. you know, when you think about what was going on inside that firehouse, as the families were getting there down the street from the elementary school and word was beginning to reach everyone that there were dead kids. >> yep. >> inside, what was that like?
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>> people responded about the scene and about the situation. they responded to come and retrieve their children and when they couldn't find their children, fear set in, panic set in, pain set in. it was fear of the unknown and when the notification was finally made, it was absolutely heartbreaking. >> you were there at the time? >> yes. >> and the governor notified the families that their little 6-year-old or little 7-year-old was dead? >> that's correct. >> what was it like there? >> it's something no one wants to experience. it was just heartbreaking. terrible. >> a lot more kids and teachers could have been killed. >> no question. >> there was still ammunition he had available, is that right? >> there was immense amount of ammunition available, yes.
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>> potentially he could have killed -- >> hundreds. >> really? when you think about that and then all of a sudden -- i guess one of the most difficult things -- you want to talk to eyewitnesses but a lot of the eyewitnesses were kids. >> that's true. >> and how does law enforcement ask a 6, 7, 9-year-old what happened to bobby, carol? >> you look at the whole big picture. our investigators will make a determination as to who needs to be interviewed. srnly there were two people that were wounded that survived. >> both educators? >> both educators. >> how are they doing? >> we are told that they will survive and they will be huge in helping us reconstruct this event. and we'll talk to the educators in the facility. we'll talk to all of the appropriate witnesses to cast information on to this case. we may or may not talk to children.
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that's to be determined as to -- >> because you don't want to aggravate -- they've gone through hell to begin with. >> absolutely. we cannot and he will not damage these children any further. they have lived through hell and we're not going to add to that. if we can get around it, we will. >> usually when you have a mass shooting like this, there are a lot more injured than killed. in this case, there were 26 killed, two injured. isn't that -- that's pretty -- i mean, i can only assume, he was deliberately, not only wanting to hurt, he wanted to kill. >> that is what it appears. that's exactly what it appears. and -- >> each one of these kids was shot multiple times. >> that's the medical examiner's report, yes. and as i said, the rounds and high-capacity clips that were with him, it could have been much worse. >> stand by for more of my interview with lieutenant paul vance. that's coming up in the next
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hour. we talk about the emotional toll that the massacre investigation has had on him and all of the other men and women in the connecticut state police. lus, more information coming up about the investigation. much more of the interview in the next hour. we also have gruesome new details about the way the gunman's mother nancy lanza was killed. the state medical examiner reveals autopsy results. and a former classmate talks about adam lanza and how his mother taught him to use guns. >> he started going to the shooting range with her and my response to that was, i never really imagined adam wanting to ever even hold a gun. ♪ the weather outside is frightful ♪ ♪ but the fire is so delightful ♪ nothing melts away the cold like a hot, delicious bowl of chicken noodle soup from campbell's. ♪ let it snow, let it snow
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bit by bit we're learning more about the sandy hook elementary gunman, 20-year-old adam lanza. one of his former classmates says lanza was once, once, a good kid. quiet, shy, not the type you would ever expect to commit a massacre. allen diaz spoke exclusively to susan candiotti. >> he had this typical nerd look, khaki pants, shirt tucked in, a computer case instead of a backpack like everyone else. he even had a pocket protector that he had pens in. we all kind of knew like that he had problems socially and we kind of had a filing that
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feeling that something might have been wrong with him but we never asked. obviously it does because, you know, he's a very big part of this event. i'm not really sure what to think of it. >> sadly, he's the reason for it. >> yeah. >> we're going to have more of that interview and a report from susan candiotti. that's coming up in our next hour. the autopsy reports on adam lanza and his mother nancy are providing gruesome new details about their death. we're joined by deborah feyerick. deb, what are you learning? >> reporter: >> reporter: you know, it really goes to the heart of the investigation investigators were here for about an hour, hour and a half. they continue to gather evidence and follow leads. the medical examiner today told us that in fact nancy lanza was shot in her bed as she slept
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four times in the head by her son. the computer that was recovered by investigators, it was can completely smashed. the hard drive shattered. therefore, investigators are having a hard time retrieving information from that computer. and so the investigator, the only person that can could have potentially testified what was going on in her son's mind, nancy lanz za was shot and killed. you lost a key piece of evidence and witness as to what may have been going on. the bodies of the alleged gunman and his mom, they are not being released just yet. they have not been picked up and the family says that they are not going to be picked up until they are -- they are not going to be informed about that until the bodies are actually buried. they just don't want to run into any kind of problem. take a close listen, wolf police investigators returned to the home of the gunman tuesday. investigators are having a hard
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time retrieving data from a bad dee damaged computer found inside the house, according to a law enforcement source, because the hard drive was shattered. not only does it appear adam lanza tried to erase the digital foot steps, he shot the only witness that could have fully explained what was going on inside him. his mother nancy, shot four times in the head as she slept in her head, likely early friday, the autopsy shows. under the terms of her 2009 divorce agreement, she was the one responsible for paying her son's psychiatric or psychological expenses, plus costs of any prescription medications not covered by insurance. the medical examiner is waiting for results of toxicology tests performed on adam lanza to see if he was on any medications or drugs that may have potentially added to the rampage. they are also working with investigators to determine if lanza was correctly diagnosed with as berger's or whether
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anything else -- >> now, we are told that by a friend who we spoke with last night and who had done work inside the home that in fact nancy lanza had a gun lock box kept in the basement of her home. she told a friend that she actually took adam to the gun range because she didn't want to leave him alone and therefore they would go together because she was worried about him. what's so interesting, wolf, about three years ago, back in 2009, that's really the last time we have any hard record of any classes he took, any courses he was enrolled in. after that, right at the time that the divorce was finalized, it seems as if adam lanza fell off the face of the earth. there's no record of what he did, who he met with. we've had a very difficult time finding friends who knew him from the period 2009 on. so he existed but he existed in a world that really nobody knows about, wolf. >> deborah feyerick, thanks very much for that report.
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let's dig a little deeper. kate bolduan is joining us here in newtown as we've put the latest information of adam lanza's mentality health into a proper perspective. joining us is dr. drew. dr. drew, the medical examiner says he was told that adam lanza had been diagnosed with asberger's syndrome. what does that have to do with violence because as far as i know that has nothing to do with violent behavior. you're a psychiatrist. >> i do deal with this a lot. it's a neurobiological, and not thought of as a mental disorder per se. one of the characteristics is not picking up on social cues, sometimes so severely that they have difficulty emphasizing with people but categorically is not associated with violence until there are other things going on.
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you have to wonder what the second hit was here that caused him to retreat so severely to the point that he was in the home, isolated, and a young adult unable to be left alone by his mother to the point that she takes him to the shooting range, that's bizarre. by the way, mom is going to play a big role here. there is not a mental health professional that would say to take to a shooting range to enhance his self-esteem. there's something going on here with mom as well. we're going to find out. >> yeah, i think you're absolutely right. but what medication normally would be associated with asperger's syndrome? because we heard sanjay gupta, sensitive medication, when you go off of it, that could cause some problems. >> it causes trouble but not
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premeditated violence. it can cause agitation and extreme fluctuations of mood but this is unlikely to be something specifically related to medication. asperger's medication, no, not typically. sometimes there's something called chemical containment to help people contain focus, being able to manage better. yes, the severely autistic spectrum sometimes gets into those medications and you have to wonder whether this is further down the autistic syndrome. and by the way, these words like asperger's are going to almost have no meaning going forward. there is something that is really troubling me. we are being held hostage by privacy issues. so many people are talking about the inability to enroll national gun laws because of fear of suits by the legal system for,
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god forbid, anybody asking questions about somebody's previous history if they want to have a weapon. and i think this is ridiculous. it's why we have problems like this. it's why doctors can't do their jobs and why parent are stuck with kids like this at home and why we can't get action on gun laws. >> and dr. drew, when you're looking at adam lanza, what in his medical history do you think investigators should be focusing more on? what are they looking into to paint a more complete picture of the person that we are talking about? and when you talk about -- and what about the toxicology report? what should they be looking at when that comes in? >> that is absolutely correct. i think the two areas that are going to give us the most information is his life online because very often people that have are difficulty with intimate connection with others, they have quite a rich life out there in the cyberspace and it can be bizarre and they can fuel some of these horrible sorts of preoccupations and violent
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tendencies. it doesn't cause them but the online life is going to be very revealing and for sure the tox kolgs are going to be critical. there's two big questions here. did somehow the medication either coming on or going off, maybe he was prescribed medication and didn't take it. we're going to find a lack of medication in his system or, god forbid, he got on to some illicit substances, like a methamphetamine and that could easily explain how somebody could flip into this kind of an agitated state. >> and looking forward for the community here, we know some students are heading back to school. we heard some parents how difficult it is is for the kids to be heading back to school. the young children at sandy hook, they are not going to be starting back to class until after the holiday break in january. from your perspective, when do you think it is the right time for children to be going back to class after they've experienced such trauma at school? >> yeah: to come extent, we have to kind of leave it up to the
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kids a little bit. if they really feel uncomfortable leaving the home and want to stay with their family, that's what they should do. i definitely think holiday at home with their family, safety, normalcy back in their life, there is is question whether they should go back into that particular environment where that happened. some kids may want to do that to regain a master ree what happened to them. others may be mortified and triggered by it and should not be forced to do so. ultimately each child is going to deal with it differently. trauma and grief are chaotic experiences. each of us out there, i challenge any one of you who has been watching this story not to agree with me that the feelings that wash over us are chaotic and unpredictable and range from rage to misery to sadness to disgust and that's normal. these things are going to continue to rush over us for weeks to come and it's incumbent upon us to take action, service will help us, create some concept of faith, whatever that concept is for you and then
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finally connect with people that love you and know you. stay with them and stay close to them. >> dr. drew, what should parents be looking for right now? because sometimes trauma -- posttraumatic stress disorder, that takes a while to go into effect. what are the signs that parents should be looking at with their kids right now? >> yeah. listen, all of us -- and particularly those in proximity to the trauma -- are going to have an acute stress reaction and that is normal. i don't know how many of your viewers notice you're not sleeping right, you're preoccupied sleeping about this thing. you may have chaotic feelings that come over you. you may have panic if you're predisposed to that. this is the time to intervene, right now, so this does not progress to a posttraumatic stress disorder which is an ongoing persistent disorder that
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has a different set of symptomatology and treatment associated with it. kids may regress, the younger kids may return to things like wetting their bed, they may withdraw, may be agitated, may have a change in their eating habits. the one caveat that i give to parents do not expect your kids to talk about this and process. kids try to pak sense of things in their own way. let them go about it their own way. i heard a beautiful way of conceptualizing, that god needed some wonderful angels and he called for them and he has this lovely group of angels with them. he needed them, he asked for them, and he got them. and that child was given a gift, a way to conceptualize and understand something that is
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frankly not able to be understood in any rational way because this was a completely irrational act. >> dr. drew, excellent, excellent advice. we really appreciate it. thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you, guys. appreciate it. my pleasure. and please be sure to watch dr. drew on call, week nights at 9:00 p.m. on our sister station hln. there's other news happening in "the situation room," including newtown beginning the grim business of burying the children whose lives ended far too soon. like a lot of things, trying to find a better job can be frustrating. so at university of phoenix we're working with a growing list of almost two thousand corporate partners - companies like microsoft, american red cross and adobe - to create options for you. not only that, we're using what we learn from these partners to shape our curriculum, so that when you find the job you want
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the national rifle association has just released its first public statement since the killing there in newtown on friday morning. i'll read it to our viewers from the nra. the nra is made up of four million moms and dads, be sons and daughters, and we were shocked, saddened, and heartbroken by the news of the
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horrific and senseless murders in newtown. out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for a mourning, prayer and full investigation of thes before commenting. the nra is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure that this never happens. that's the first public statement since the killings here in newtown friday morning. the nra also says it will hold a major news conference this coming friday, december 21st, in washington, d.c. of course, we'll cover that as well. there has been another deadly shooting in colorado. police say four people are dead in a murder-suicide. lisa sylvester is monitoring that. what do you have, lisa? >> wolf, it's a disturbing story of a woman's 911 strategy. it happened in colorado. authorities say as the call for help came in, a dispatcher heard
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gunshots, a man saying he was going to kill himself, and then another gunshot. a s.w.a.t. team later found two men and two women dead at the scene. at an nbc team kidnapped in syria is free and unharmed and expressing relief today. richard engel says his crew was captured last week as they crossed from turkey into syria. he believes his kidnappers were militia loyal to the syrian government. the average price of regular self-serve gasoline in the u.s. is now $3.24. the price has fallen every day for almost a month and it could fall to levels not seen in two years. analysts credit in part the better economy and continued high unemployment.
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wolf? >> lisa, thank you. two more families here in connecticut burying their children. their funerals and their stories. that's ahead. copd includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. spiriva helps control my copd symptoms by keeping my airways open for 24 hours. plus, it reduces copd flare-ups. spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled copd maintenance treatment that does both. spiriva handihaler tiotropium bromide inhalation powder does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, glaucoma, trouble urinating, or an enlarged prostate. these may worsen with spiriva. discuss all medicines you take, even eye drops. stop taking spiriva and seek immediate medical help if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, vision changes or eye pain, or problems passing urine. for almost a month and it could their funerals and their nothing can reverse copd. spiriva helps me breathe better.
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a girl who loved horses and a boy who loved to swim, thurp buried here in newtown. jessica rekos and jam mat yolly, they were both 6 years old. cnn's don lemon is joining us here in newtown. how sad is this, don, because you were speaking to a lot of people in this wonderful
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community. >> it's really sad. the one good thing that is coming out of this is that people are coming together and people are showing us their support. you can see how high the stuffed animals and flowers, be it's all packed in here. people put up a cross and christmas trees and a rocking horse. wolf, let's learn a little bit more about the 6-year-olds who loved life so much. the first one is james mattioli. he was 6 years old and was jumped to as jay. he was a fan of wrestling, that he liked math and hair gel and he was in love with his big sister anna. he would often sing at the top of his lungs and loved the outdoors. he loved diving into pool, riding his bicycle and he was proud that he didn't need training wheels and we can all remember when we were that age and once you didn't need training wheels, we were all little tykes them.
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also, jessica rekos was known as the ceo of her family. they called her the boss. she ruled the roost. she was a ball of fire and a planner and her family promised her she would get a horse by the time she turned 10. but this christmas, according to her mother, she was looking forward to getting a pair of could you girl boots. this is how her mother talked about it. >> it's still not real that my little girl who was so full of life and who wants a horse so badly and who was going to get cowgirl boots for christmas isn't coming home. >> and of course, that's the mom. the mom's name is christina. i can't imagine how she was even able to garner the strength to do that interview. but, again, there are people now you see here who are paying their tributes in their own way, people who may not have been able to go to the funeral today, they are dropping off flowers
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and coming here just to console each other and this memorial, this is just one of them, wolf, that you and i have seen. one of them that is just growing. you can feel the love out here and you can feel that people want to come here just to show their support and to really hug each other. every single person who has been coming up to us has been wanting to hug us saying that, you know, we're glad you guys are here. usually when the media comes to town we're not so happy to see the media but we're glad that you're here and showing the world that this community is not going to be remembered for a tragic event but remembered for the love that they showed each other and are especially showing each other in this memorial that they've erected in the middle of newtown. >> don, you've definitely been speaking to a lot of people from the town and many people coming in from out of town to show their support. what are you hearing from folks about where things go from here, or even in the short term being what the next two weeks looks like. >> you know what, they don't know. of course, two more today and
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they say right now it's day by day by day and as we have been out here talking to people and they have been coming here, some of the processions -- one of the processions came by today and you could see the people in that procession. you could see the herses and the moving trucks, you and i saw that, they were moving the things from this school to the other school where it's going to be temporarily. they passed each other and it was quite a thing to see one thing moving on and the other thing, the parents and family members and loved ones going to lay their little loved ones to rest. it was -- it was just unbelievable to see. i don't even have the words for it, kate. >> so heartbreaking for all of us. don is going to be back in the next hour. we're going to continue this conversation. here's the question. is the white house ready to get serious about gun control?
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if so, the white house press secretary today gave us a little bit of an idea about how the president is going to respond. stand by. asks what it feels to drive a jeep grand cherokee, tell them it's like being nestled in an eight-way, adjustable, heated and ventilated seat surrounded by a 500-watt sound system while floating on a suspension made of billowy clouds. or you could just hand them your keys. ♪ ♪
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before friday's appalling
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gun violence, gun control was almost on nobody's agenda in washington but now it has become a priority for many lawmakers. brianna keilar is joining us with more on this debate. where is it heading, brianna? >> reporter: wolf, it's heating up. the nra is having a press conference tomorrow. that's also a sign that this debate is heating up and it's no coincidence that that comes on the heels of the white house detailing some of the steps it wants to take on gun violence. today, for the first time, the white house got specific on how the president will tackle gun violence. >> is he actively considering measures, be it gun laws or mental health measures right now? >> well, he is actively supportive of, for example, senator feinstein's stated intent to revive a piece of
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legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban. >> reporter: the white house says the president would like to close the gun loophole and look at measures that address mental health. critics have said that the president has not led on gun rights and they say it's time to find a bipartisan solution. >> i think most republicans are willing to have a very serious conversation and find out what the second means in the 21st century. >> i think you're trying to turn this into a political theater thing. >> reporter: but the president is appearing to act more aggressively on the issue. he called west virginia senator joe manchin, a pro-gun rights democrat who once started his
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own campaign ad pushed by president obama. he says it's time to act on violence. the president met with vice president joe biden, arnie duncan, kathleen sebelius, and attorney general eric holder. a demonstration of the comprehensive approach the president wants to take in combatting the problem. observers of this debate also say president obama could exert his executive authority to bypass congress and do some things on his own. that could include share information, a better sharing of information between federal, state, and local law enforcements about potential illegal gun purchases. i mentioned we talked about that gun conference. that was on friday, not tomorrow. i misspoke. >> they just issued a statement, brianna. thank you very much. that gun control debate is about
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to inten fi big time in washington. the founding fathers had no idea that they were kicking a hornet's nest by guaranteeing americans the right to bear arms. they started a fierce debate that goes on today. we're going to talk about the legal ramifications coming up with jeffrey toobin. also, adam lanza has been described as a loner and one man is describing about this man that carried out this horrific rampage. i always wait until the last minute. can i still ship a gift in time for christmas? yeah, sure you can. great. where's your gift? uh... whew. [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. ship fedex express by december 22nd for christmas delivery.
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there may be no more constitutional couldn't verse yee than the right to bear arms and the devil is in the details and for decades americans have argued which arms we should be allowed to bear. jeffrey toobin is author of "the oath" and senior legal analyst. he's joining us from new york. here's what the constitution, the second amendment says, you know this well. a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the
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people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. over the years, as you well know, jeffrey, this has gone through a lot of interpretations. most recently in 2008. >> very dramatically different interpretations. before 2008, for 100 years, that first clause, the so-called militia clause, was read by the supreme court and other courts to trump the right to keep and bear arms. that amendment was interpreted for decades as giving individuals no right to keep and bear arms. in 2008, that changed on a dime. the united states supreme court in a decision called hellar said that the second amendment gives individuals the right to keep and bear arms but what arms, where you get to keep them, that's still very much up for grabs. >> so what restricts are legal? >> well, let's start with what restricts we know are illegal.
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it is illegal now for a government, a local government or the federal government to ban the possession of handguns within the home. that is what the heller case was about. the government can't do that. but it starts to get murkier when it's about other weapons than handguns and outside the home. it seems pretty clear that automatic weapons, semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles, those can be regulated. the issue of whether they can be regulated in terms of can you have concealed, carry them in a concealed way or carry them openly is also an open question. but this is an area of where the law is changing a lot and tends to be moving in the direction of less regulation of firearms. so that's something congress is going to have to think about if and when it decides to pass any law. >> jeffrey, listen to what dr. drew pinsky just told me this hour here in "the situation room." i'll play the clip and then
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we'll discuss. >> so much of what people are talking about is the inability to enroll rational gun laws because of fear of suits by the legal system for god forbid anybody asking questions about somebody's previous history if they want to have a weapon. and i think this is ridiculous. >> so are privacy laws part of this problem, as he's suggesting? >> i think what drew is saying is that the nra and other groups that oppose regulation and registration of guns, they are saying, you know, you can't invade people's privacy by asking them questions about, do they have a mental health history, do they have a criminal record? and, you know, that is an objection that has been raised. i don't think it's constitutionally significant. but it might be politically significant. you know, gun owners are a very powerful group in this country and they don't want to have their privacy infringed on so
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that's one argument used against any sort of gun control. i don't think it's a constitutional argument but it's a political argument that a lot of people -- it carries a lot of weight. >> here's something that justice scalia said shortly after the aurora, colorado, mass killings. i'm going to play the clip. >> yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed. what they are is what society understands are reasonable limitations. the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be carried. it doesn't apply to canons. i suppose there are handheld rocket launches that can bring down airplanes. it will have to be decided. >> did you get a clue there from what kind of gun restricts justice scalia might be open to in. >> not many, it sounds like. remember, he said hand held like
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stin gstin ger missiles. maybe yes, maybe not. he was obviously just talking off the cuff but it's indicative of how up in the air the rules are here. i think most of us assume that the government can ban stinger missiles. if you're standing by an airport with a missile that can shoot down a plane, i think most of us are recognized that that's something that the government can regulate. but justice scalia seems up in the air about it. i think that is just an indication of how much the heller can case has thrown all of these rules up in the air and i wouldn't want to be in a position of guaranteeing one way or another how the supreme court is going to rule on gun control at this point. >> and neither would i. jeffrey, thank you very much. jeff toobin is our senior legal analyst. sandy hook students may dread the day they must return to school, at least some of them. now officials are trying to give them a little bit more time to cope with this tragedy. let's say you want to get ahead in your career.
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school officials are planning for sandy hook students to go back to school in january. >> that's right, wolf. we have received a letter
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detailing students to return to chalk hill in a neighboring town. police will be in hand both inside and out when they resume school. students at the other schools went back to class today within the newtown public school system. mary snow has been following that. mary, what are you learning? >> reporter: kate, as you know, as this community mourns and the o outpouring of support continues, newtown school district reopened its doors for the first time since the tragedy on friday. this is a community still on edge and at one element ree school a call was made, they didn't talk about the nature of that call but it was enough for school officials to tell students to stay home at that one school. but elsewhere, school did resume two hours later than normal. school buses rolling once again as newtown struggles to resume a
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sense of normalcy but it is anything but normal. funerals were held nearby. police presence were stepped up. in the midst of it, some parent welcomed getting back to a routine in the classroom. >> it's exactly what the kids need after such a, you know, terrible tragedy. a lot of them do know what's going on. and they need somewhere, you know, to get their thoughts back to the fun stuff. >> reporter: but its also meant that kids from other schools who had been shielded from what happened would now return and potentially hear about the grim events that had transpired at sandy hook elementary school. >> when i picked my daughter up from school on friday, the first words out of her mouth were, pa, why are you picking me up? we're having such a great day. and i need to thank the teachers
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and the staff for doing their best to shield my child from what happened. >> reporter: before return aring to class, schools encouraged parents to talk with their kids to talk about the shootings saying that staff can't control what children hear from others. >> when a crisis likes this happens -- >> reporter: wendy is a grief counselor in town who has been advising parents on how to talk to their kids. >> children don't need details. all they need to know is a fact. that a bad thing happened, people were killed, and we are making our schools very safe and this doesn't happen very, very often and we are working that it never will happen again. >> reporter: and to prepare for students returning, the district met with staff from bus drivers to teachers on monday. among the things they cautioned
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them about, the dangers of getting too emotional in front of children, something that can be overwhelming for the kids. >> that's terrifying for children because we are supposed to be the strength for them. we provide security and safety and predictability and if the teachers fall apart, that's going to scare them. i'm wolf blitzer in newtown, connecticut. we'd like to welcome our viewers from the united states and around the world. today students took their first tentative steps towards some semblance of normality. most of the schools reopened but not the sandy hook elementary school. we learned today that the students of that school, the site of friday's last shooting, won't resume classes until january. also, the connecticut's medical examiner revealed that nancy lanza was shot four times in the head while she was sleeping.
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he also says adam lanza died of a single gunshot wound to the head fired from a handgun. significantly, the medical examiner also disclosed that he's been told lanza was diagnosed with asperger's syndrome. officials say they are working to determine whether that diagnosis was correct. our national correspondent, susan candiotti, spoke with an acquaintance of the la lanzas a she's joining us now. >> reporter: wolf, this is the home where the shooter adam lanza lived with his mother and whether police say he shot and killed his mother as she was sleeping in her bedroom. as you indicated, he shot her four times in the head. and among the many people that
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are trying to figure out what went wrong, what made this young man do what he did are people who went to school with him. i spoke with one of those young men very recently. among the steady stream of people drawn to this memorial honoring victims, a former schoolmate of the alleged killer. when you think of this, does your mind also go to your friend? >> obviously it does because, you know, he's a very big part in this event. i'm not really sure what to think of it. >> sadly, he's the reason for it. >> yeah. >> yeah. >> alan diaz, when he was a sophomore at newtown high school and diaz was a freshman in 2008. >> he was a very intelligent person. the way he acted around other people was just very withdrawn
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and just very quiet. >> a little different? >> yeah. >> they were in the high school tech class together, spent a lot of time on computers. adam had his own style of dressing. >> he had like the stir ohio typical nerd look, like khaki pants, belt, tucked in shirt, even had like a little computer case, a briefcase instead of a backpack like everyone else, even a pocket protector that he had pens in. >> he doesn't know whether lanza was bullied. he kept to himself. >> we all kind of knew that he had problems socially and we kind of had a feeling that there might have been something wrong with him but obviously we never asked. we never thought it was our place to do so. >> back then, his schoolmate's mom invited them over to the house to play video games. one was starcraft, kind of a war games in space. another was war craft 3 where, as the ad says, survival is a
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matter of strategy. >> war craft 3 bass realwas rea. he actually picked up on star craft very quickly. >> reporter: when lanza quit high school and was home schooled, he lost touch. >> i remember her mentioning that he started going to the shooting range with her and my initial response to that was, i never really imagined adam one to even hold a gun. >> why do you say that in. >> i don't know. maybe because in my mind i don't imagine shy, quiet people going to a shooting range. i never really can make that association. >> investigators are tracking how often lanza had been to gun ranges. they don't yet know how many so far. they've proven that he was at target practice six months ago and for several years mother and son went at least once together.
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alan's older sister went to school with the shooter's older brother and friends with his mother who went to her bridal shower last year. >> why her? she was just -- thank you. yeah. it was a shock. always a happy person. >> do you now think of him as an evil person because of what he did in. >> at one point he was a good kid. the events that he did that day may have been evil but before then he was just another kid. >> until something made him snap. now perhaps, wolf, perhaps we might get some answers from toxicology tests. this is blood work that the medical examiner's office is doing as part of the autopsy which might tell us whether he had any drugs or chemicals in
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his system, adam lanza. however, there is another troubling aspect of this investigation. we are hearing that the computers that are currently being analyzed by the state police with help from the fbi, that there is is difficulty doing that, having a hard time because the computer was so badly smashed and the hard drive nearly destroyed that investigators are having a very difficult time trying to retrieve any information from it. information, for example, on what internet sites he might have visited, any e-mails he might have set, any websites he might have visited. and so that, too, might have given them answers but now we don't know know whether they will be able to do that. wolf? >> learning a little bit more every single day but there's still so much more to learn. susan candiotti, thank you. today, connecticut's governor signed a proclamation to make this friday a state of mourning. he's asking for a moment of
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silence at 9:30 a.m. that's about the same time that adam lanza showed up at the school and started shooting. today i spoke with the man who has become the public face of this investigation, the connecticut state police lieutenant, paul vance. >> lieutenant vance, in your 39-year career, how do you prepare for the enormity of a tragedy like this? >> training. training. constant, constant training, things you hope you will never have to use, just like the side arm, you hope you never will have to use it. you have to train, you have to prepare because when you get to a scene or a situation, even a scene of this ma na tud, you have to act. there's no time. >> because you have emerged as the chief spokesman. you are telling people not only here but all over the world what's going on. it must take a toll on you. >> it does. but our training prepares us to work through those issues, to go
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through something like this is devastating. it's truly devastating because we're only human and we think about the families. we think about these children. we think about the people that lost their lives. we think about the teachers that protected their children. and all those things, you're processing but you have to shove it aside and move forward and do what you're trained to do. >> and you met with these families of these 26 victims, 20 kids, six educators. that must be one of the most difficult things you've ever done in your life. >> i was part of it but, quite frankly, the people that were assigned to work with them and the one on ones, if you will, the interviewers that had to interview people, those are very, very hard jobs, very hard things to do. there are so many people that have played such a major role in this whole situation that it spread amongst many. >> was there -- i know the whole thing has been painful. it's been painful for all of us.
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i can only imagine what the families are going through. but was there one moment in your mind that stands out that you will never forget the rest of your life? >> i think the crime scene itself is something that has made an indelible mark. it's something that we will never be able to erase. >> you mean when you walked into that sandy hook elementary school and you saw bodies of little kids on the floor? >> that's right. yes. >> how can you even -- that must be so shocking. that must be so traumatic. >> it's an inlegalable mark that will never go away. >> you never saw anything like that before in your life? >> no. >> and you've been to a lot of crime scenes? >> yes. >> this was the worst by far? >> yes. >> we want to make sure this doesn't happen again. it will happen again. i know that.
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you know that. what can we do to reduce the chances of this happening again? >> well, i think everyone's looked at this scene, this situation, we're all prepared even when we were younger for fire drills, we prepare for emergencies in the school. i think that's a constant thing that we're always going to do in our educational system, review, rereview, look at it, make sure to continue to make our most precious children as safe as we can make them. we have to. we worked through 9/11 and we continued. life went on. i don't want to simplify anything but we've got to work through this. >> do we need a national commission to take a look at school safety? >> that's above me. i know on a local level, i'm sure our town leaders, state leaders are all going to continuously look at school safety to ensure that our children are safe.
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>> lieutenant vance, let me thank you for what you and the connecticut state police have done. you've been a real source of strength to all of us and as journalists, americans, as citizens, you've done an outstanding job. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that. >> thank you. >> across newtown, this was a back to school day unlike any of these parents or students have faced before. and listening to a neighbor who has a truly amazing story to tell. >> they said, we can't go back to that school. we can't go back. >> we can't go back? >> our teacher -- our teacher's dead. mmmm tasty. and cut! very good. people are always asking me how we make these geico adverts. so we're taking you behind the scenes. this coffee cup, for example, is computer animated. it's not real.
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with a deep breath and prayers for safety, most of newtown parents sent their children back to school today. cnn's kyung watched a normal routine that has utterly changed. how did it go? >> it changed forever, not just for people in this immediate area but all through the entire connecticut region because if you're a parent and you have a child heading to school, you certainly felt what happened at this elementary school, especially for one family, you know, who is trying to resume normal life. nothing new at the govai house, just another morning brushing teeth, readying the baby except
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everything has changed. >> how can't you think about it? like it's so close to you. >> reporter: what is it like to send your child off into the world? >> you know, i -- after friday i -- i wanted to just put them in a bubble and home school and not ever send them off. >> reporter: but sending their children off to school is exactly what parent in this area are doing. here in newtown, the first day back in class has meant the children are walking by satellite trucks and the funerals of fellow children. they are trying to return to a fellow routine when nothing here is ordinary. >> this is my town going through this. it's tough and i want to be there for them. >> reporter: megan lives a town away in new milforn now but she grew up here in newtown. she married here, baptized here. her father taught at sandy hook
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when megan was a child. >> i'd naturally like to keep my kids in a bubble but you can't do that. they need to experience school and everything that helps them grow and mature and it's important. >> reporter: so they keep going. police officers are at both these boys' schools like they are across the region. the news continues to play out but in the background, not this family's focus. >> have a good day. >> by, mom. >> in a way, it's kind of showing them that, you know what, you didn't win. we're going to win this by continuing to do things as normal as possible. >> have the best day ever. i love you. >> showing your kids that, you know what, it's okay. we're going to go on with life. >> see you, brent. >> we're going to keep doing things the way we did it last week. we're going to win. >> reporter: just by living.
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i mentioned the police presence. it has varied at different schools from the elementary school to the high school. i counted three patrol cars at the high school. parents said that they are glad for their kids to go back but it's certainly a very difficult day, wolf. >> very difficult, indeed. i hope that everyone is just trying to get back to normal, though it's not going to be easy. kyung lah, thank you very much. whether or not they admit it, there are many heroes in newtown, the teachers at the school, the first responders, of course, but also the people who happened to be in the right place at the right time. >> that's absolutely right, wolf. gene rosen lives down the street. friday morning he discovered six terrified children on his front lawn who told him that their teacher had just been killed. rosen spoke with cnn's erin
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burnett. >> when you saw those children on your yard, did you have any idea that something was wrong? >> i had no idea. i thought they were doing a skit, cub scouts, girl scouts or just practicing because they were just sitting so nicely but then i saw a man in a very agitated way saying, it's going to be all right and he kept raising his voice are and i thought that was so strange and i came to the children and they were crying and waling and mortified and a school bus driver was with them and i invited them into the house. they said there was an incident at the school. i had no idea what it was. >> and the children, how did they find the words to tell you? they told you that their teacher died? >> they told me. they just started talking. the two boys mostly talked and they said, we can't go back to that can school.
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we can't -- >> we can't go back? >> our teacher -- our teacher is dead. what are we going to do? we don't have a teacher? and i was -- i could not take that in. i could not -- i could not accept that. and i just kept listening to them and then they talked more and the boy said, oh, no. it was a big gun and a small gun and then i knew -- and then they said there was blood. there was blood. and then they said her name and i prayed that it wasn't that teacher and it was. it was that -- >> vicky soto? >> it was that very pretty 27-year-old teacher. i don't know how they fled. i don't know if they ran all the way down the boulevard, the street next to the firehouse, i don't know how they got to my
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house. they were so brave and they were so good and they -- i brought down some toys from my grandson's toy chest and i gave them some juice and we called their parents. they were very brave and very good and i was amazed. i was -- i was astounded at what they were telling me. >> i know you're a psychologist by training but you talk about being a grandfather. just the grandfather, that was you at that moment. >> that's what trained me. being a grandfather. i felt like i was with my grandchildren and i felt perfectly happy with them. that's what trained me. my granddaughter and my grandson and they were with me and i felt comfortable. they were very sweet and they calmed down a little but they were so -- they kept repeating that they can't go back to the school because they don't have a
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teacher. >> and their grieving is going to be hard for the adults to understand. it will be intense. it will be different. what message do you have for those children that came on to your yard? >> i want to see -- i want to be reunited with them. i want to see those children and i want to tell them how good and brave and strong they are. i want to tell their parents that. >> it's such a sad story. >> so sad. >> heartwrempbling story about these amazing kids who witnessed something so horrible. when we come back, the search for answers. the clues. medical investigators are looking for. we'll be right back. [ female announcer ] what if the next big thing, isn't a thing at all?
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it's lots of things. all waking up. connecting to the global phenomenon we call the internet of everything. ♪ it's going to be amazing. and exciting. and maybe, most remarkably, not that far away. we're going to wake the world up. and watch, with eyes wide, as it gets to work. cisco. tomorrow starts here. can i still ship a gift in time for christmas? yeah, sure you can. great. where's your gift? uh... whew. [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. ship fedex express by december 22nd for christmas delivery.
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in newtown, connecticut, people are searching for answering. sanjay gupta reports there's one place medical investigators will start. the past. >> first thing you notice when you look around newtown, everyone has that questioning
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look. why? what did we miss, if anything? no answers yet, just hindsight. to try and make some sense of the tragedy here in newtown, connecticut, medical investigators will often look for evidence of patterns. i'm not talking about looking at clothing styles or musical preferences or lifestyle but rather evidence of specific plans. that could give some clue as to what was happening in a person's mind or brain. it's hard to know because thankfully there are relatively few tragedies like this one. but a close look at the ten most analyzed massacres in history provide some insight. according to this report, doctors typically start by placing these killers into three categories. traumatized, psychotic, psychopath particular. in 2005, a 16-year-old killed nine people at a school in
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minu minnesota. a look into his past revealed a horrible past and virginia tech shooter killed 32 people. six were murdered in arizona and 12 lives were taken in an aurora, colorado, movie theater. in each case, the shooters showed psychotic behavior. 13 people were killed in columbine. one was a textbook psychopath and we know now he even laughed while gunning down his victims. looking back, none of them had snapped. they had all left clues pieced together after it was too late. hindsight. we still don't know much about this shooter that lived in this home but there is something else to consider, what medications, if any, he was on. i'm specifically talking about antidepressants. if you look at how other shootings like this have happened, medications were a common factor.
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i want to be clear, not that antidepressants can't be effective but there's a vulnerable time between when someone starts and stops these medications, could lead to decreased judgment and making someone out of touch. none of this is an execution and it's never just one thing. none of these behaviors will fully predict or explain why. but soon again there will be hindsight that might just help prevent another tragedy. in a seven-year period there were 181 episodes of drug side effects. often it was him or herself suicide. it was very difficult for these people to get treatment in the first place. back to you. >> sanjay gaup upta reporting f us. thank you. sandy hook students won't go back to school until next month. we have a guest who knows what
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with unlimited talk and text. hurry in for a droid incredible 4g lte by htc for $49.99. today marked another terrible moment for the parents of two students killed in their classrooms friday morning. two more funerals, two more beautiful children laid to rest. >> james mattioli was foundly known as jay. he was a fan of arm wrestling, math, hair gel, and his big sister anna. he would often sing at the top of his lungs and asked how old he would have to be to perform
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on stage. he also loved the outdoors, diving into the pool, and riding his book. proud that he didn't need training wheels anymore. and jessica rekos was known as the ceo of her family, the boss. her parents promised she would get the gift she wanted most, a horse, when she turned 10. >> it's still not real that my little girl who's so full of life and who wants a horse so badly and was going to get cowgirl boots for christmas isn't coming home. >> the survivors of the sandy hook elementary school face daunting daunting challenges, hoping what they have seen, heard, and felt and trying to rebuilt a sense of normality in their lives. but they aren't alone. crystal miller hid from the killer's at the columbine in
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1999 and escaped to safety. >> i was in the library when they came in and just started shooting and setting off bombs. they said that they have wanted to do this their whole lives. >> crystal miller is now part of a support group and she's joining us from den injurver. thank you for joining us. do you remember what it was like four days after the columbine massacre, how you felt then? >> wolf, it's hard to remember the specific days. i feel like in the immediate days following the shooting at columbine, the days blurred together. it was still that feeling of disbelief and shock, complete and utter shock. and at some point along the way it turned into experiencing just a wide range of ee mowings with such intensity, from fear to anger to sadness to guilt.
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just trying to wade through those as a 16-year-old girl who had faced reality of death underneath the table at columbine. it's just -- it was so hard to do at 16. i cannot even begin to imagine what it looks like for these kids who are 6 and 7, just mere babies. >> so how did you learn to cope with the tragedy that you eyewitnessed? >> for me, i really had an amazing support system. my family, the community of littleton, my school friends, of course the administrators, teachers at columbine. i had an amazing church community. personally i had faith that i was able to stand on and none of it was easy. it was the darkest days of my life as i was scared to close my eyes because i would relive the events, i would hear the sounds of the guns. i would hear the killers'
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voices. i could smell the smells of the library. yet it was a journey. it was a process. i can't remember one day where things suddenly got better but it was really a progression. it was time that it took to heal. it was coming together and really supporting one another. just as i see the people of sandy hook doing, the people of newtown, conne newtown, connecticut look so close-knit and that's really crucial at this time. >> and one thing that many are so concerned about the children whol survived this tragedy here is how they are going to cope when they realize and probably have at this point that they have lost their friends, 13 people were killed at columbine. did you lose any friends? >> i did. i knew several of the students, the teacher, mr. sanders, he was my coach for softball,
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basketball, track. what's so hard is going back and you have an empty chair next to you or we go to graduation and you know that you have classmates that are supposed to be graduating with you. it's -- it leaves a void that cannot be filled and for these young kids, i think what breaks my heart the most is these young kids can't understand that that happened at their school and the bad guy is gone. they are going home and they think that the bad guy is in their room or in their house and it's hard for them to contextua contextualize that and even after the cameras are gone and the people disappear that they are still not alone. that there's a nation still grieving. that unfortunately there's other survivors out there who can relate, who love them and are not going anywhere and i think that's what we need to remember. we have to be there in the long term when these kids do begin to realize the reality of what is
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happening and that we cannot forget this community. we have to continue to stand behind them, support them, do whatever we can to lend a hand because that's when things get real is when you feel isolated and alone and reality sinks in. >> we hear you're coming to come to newtown. how do you want to help? >> i do. i want to come not because i feel like i have anything that i can say that -- there's no five-step plan to walk through tragedy and through trauma. i want to wrap my arms around people, cry with them, hear their stories, just grieve with this community. but we hope to come again when all of the cameras are gone and the world kind of goes back to the day to day, we want to come, we want to bring teddy bears and just love on the community
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there. just as we were loved on at columbine and in the littleton community. >> and everybody wants to know why, why something like this could happen, why something like columbine can happen. if we find out that the survivors here, the families find out why, will that make a difference? will that help? did it help you? >> you know, i'm not sure that we still know why the two killers that columbine did what they did. i'm not sure we ever have answers to some of these questions. because i think if we really knew that we would see these things come to an end and, unfortunately, even as you said before, wolf, they continue to happen. i'm not sure if -- i mean, answering a kbe isn't going to bring back these 26 amazing lives that we've lost. some it may bring some consolation, it may bring some understanding. but the fact is that there's 20 beautiful children who were
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taken all too soon and sick adults who as well were taken all too soon from this earth. >> crystal, thanks so much for sharing your story. i'm sure you will be a source of comfort for a lot of the folks here at newtown. we appreciate you joining us. >> thank you so much for having me. >> thank you. there's a growing debate over violent video games at the same time. what you need to know, what you can do to protect your kids. that's next. begin.
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police say adam lanza brought four weapons, four weapons to the sandy hook elementary school here in newtown and now calls for changes to gun control laws are growing louder and louder. after days of silence, one voice finally joining the conversation is the national rifle association, better known as nra. emily schmidt is joining us with more of this story. what is going on? >> wolf, the nra has said almost nothing since last week's shooting. late this afternoon, that all changed with this statement
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saying, out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer, and investigation of facts before commenting. now the nra is set to hold a news conference on friday, one full week after the shooting. it could be a test of the nra's clout in a political landscape potentially altered. >> from all of us here at nra.com, our hearts go out to the people of newtown, connecticut, and the folks who are grieving tonight after the horrendous murders at sandy hook elementary. >> the statement is a departure from how the nra has handled previous gun-related tranl dees. until the facts are thoroughly known, nra will not have any comment. that was almost identical to the comments following other high-profile shootings.
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the nra is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to make sure this never happens again but has not gone into detail what those contributions may prove to be. >> i'm sure there's going to be a quick, quick lively debate coming up. we'll see what happens at the news conference that the nra is holding this friday in washington. emily, thanks very much. questions are being raised over the role that violent video games might have played in this tragedy as well. people who knew the gunman say he enjoyed playing those violent video games, like one called starcraft. is there any link between the games and real-life violence? our senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen is joining us with more on this. this debate over violent video games has also intensified. >> it is intensifying and if you look at the literature, there's a real conflict over whether or not these games can actually
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make someone violent some of the studies say, no, they are not. they get the difference between reality and fantasy. they get that these are just games but other studies show that there is an association. one study was really interesting, one group played violent video games and the other group played nonviolent video games and they staged a fight and the folks who had been watching the violent video games were less likely to help out. they were slower to try to help the people who were fighting and stop the fight and their conclusion was that perhaps in some way they had been desensitized because they felt that the fighting really wasn't that bad. after watching the games, the real-life fight didn't seem that bad. wolf? >> you know, elizabeth, a lot of parents are watching their -- maybe their kids play a lot of
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these games all the time. so what can they do if they begin to get worried about their kids spending an awful lot of time with these violent games? >> you know, i think if parents are worried, they -- i'm going to go out on a limb here as an empowered parent and say, no. i don't like these games. there's a million things you can do. stop playing them f you feel like your kids are playing them and it's okay and i would urge to you do these three things. know the rating of the game that they are playing and watch it online. if your child is playing this game, watch it yourself. they may be playing it for hours on end. also, have them play the game in a common family space. they shouldn't be in their bedroom doing it. you don't know how long they are going to go on and play this game and what else they are playing. do it where else you can watch them. also, monitor your child. if your child is having fights at school, if your child is not doing well at school, if the teacher is telling you that your child is having behavioral issues, then you should pay attention to that and remember there might be a link to these
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games. wolf, a psychologist gave us a really great piece of advice. they said, parent don't always notice these behavioral changes but say grandma comes to visit and says something is off here. listen to the people you see on occasions, they may notice the changes better than you. >> that's a good point. thanks very much, elizabeth, for that. at the top of the hour, we're going to have the very latest on the investigation here in connecticut. what exactly is going on? later, a boyfriend remembers a teacher-turned hero who lost her life trying to stay her students. i always wait until the last minute. can i still ship a gift in time for christmas? yeah, sure you can. great. where's your gift? uh... whew. [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. ship fedex express by december 22nd for christmas delivery. by december 22nd we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of tim and laura.
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while much of president obama's attention certainly has been focused on his administration's response to gun violence, what has happened here in connecticut and understandably so, he's also been talking with the house speaker john boehner about a deal to try to avoid huge tax increases, the massive spending cuts scheduled to hit in just 14 days. cnn's senior congressional
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correspondent, dana bash is outside a meeting of house republicans. there's been ups and downs. what's going on? what are they discussing, dana? what's the very latest. >> house republicans are meeting right down the hall from where i am right now. they're talking about whether or not they have the votes for a doomsday kind of proposal that the speaker first proposed this morning. this has been something that republicans have been mulling for weeks. but because right now we are one week away from christmas and it was now or never. house speaker john boehner negotiating by phone with the president monday afternoon. the speaker's office released this photo to show he is trying to cut a broad deal to reduce the deficit and avert the fiscal cliff, even though he's also now pursuing what he calls plan "b." >> our plan "b" would protect american taxpayer, who make a million dollars or less and have all of their current rates extended. >> according to sources in the room, the speaker described this backup plan to house republicans
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as a way to try to inoculate the gop from political blame if fiscal cliff compromise talks fail. >> the point was, we have to face reality. the reality is that the president was re-elected, that taxes, if we do nothing on every american are going up on january the 1st. >> reporter: another goal of this new plan "b" tactic, try to force the president to agree that any package to reduce the deficit be equal parts tax increases and spending cuts. >> that, at this point, would be my version of a balanced approach. >> reporter: part of the republican strategy is also to call the democrats' bluff. just two years ago, high-profile democrats came up with the idea of extending tax cuts for incomes up to $1 million. now democrats think they hold the cards and say, no way. >> everyone should understand, boehner's proposal will not pass the senate. >> reporter: the white house argues the president gave a lot of ground in a proposal leaked to reporters monday night,
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making concessions to the gop position on tax rate increases and spending cuts. in fact, a democratic source in the room tells cnn the president's congressional liaison got an earful at a meeting of house democrats for agreeing to change that would effectively make social security checks smaller. >> the president has always said, as part of this process, when we're talking about the spending cut side of this, that it would require tough choices by both sides. and that is certainly the case, if you want to reach an agreement. >> reporter: now, as far as this republican plan "b" proposal, which again, they're discussing the down the hall, as we speak, a republican senator i talked to said he believes that this is important to do to sort of get the tax rate issue, the very divisive tax rate issue, off the table, in the hopes that when the votes are taken and you see that probably none of this can actually pass, it will clear the way, finally, for the president and the speaker to get that broad $2 trillion deal to reduce
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the deficit and avert the fiscal cliff. wolf? >> they still have plenty of work to do, the president and the speaker. not only bridging their gaps, but making sure they've got their own people on board to support whatever compromises they achieve. dana, thank you. cnn's anderson cooper has spoken with the parents of one of the victims. they told them how they intend to live their lives to honor their little girl's memory. anderson will join us with their story. that's coming up in our next hour. i always wait until the last minute.
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we're here in newtown, connecticut. it's a small new england town. many people say they moved here because of the fabulous schools and because it's a safe, sbrimt community. in the face of the horrible reason we're here, though, the town is showing remarkable, remarkable strength right now. all of us are so impressed. don lemon is here in newtown as well. he's at one of these many memorials that have sprung up throughout the town. it's pouring rain outside, now, don, but tell our viewers what's going on. >> reporter: well, the people are dropping off things and there's hardly any room here. and before i show you around a
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little bit, wolf, i want to talk to you about two of the youngest victims, two of the victims who were laid to rest today. little james mattioli and also little jessica rekos, both of them 6 years old. i want to tell you about james first. fondly known as jay in his family, and he was such a fireball. he liked wrestling and math, he loved to fix his hair, he liked hair gel, but more in love with his bigger sister, whose name was ana. they say what they're going to remember about him most that he often sung at the top of his lungs and he couldn't wait until he was old enough to sing on stage. he said he loved the outdoors, diving into pools, riding on his bike, and he was so happy that recently he didn't need his training wheels to ride his bicycle. and then there is 6-year-old jessica rekos, who's known as the ceo of her family and they called her the boss because she liked to plan everything. and her mom also spoke about her. take a listen. >> it's still not real that my
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little girl, who's so full of life, and who wants a horse so badly, and who's going to get cowgirl boots for christmas, isn't coming home. >> reporter: my god, the strength of that mother. she wanted a horse by the time she was 10. sadly, wolf, she didn't make it. but they said she was going to get cowgirl boots this christmas, and that's what she wanted more than anything, besides that horse. but sadly, that's not going to happen. so many stories, so many stories like that. two of the people who are young victims, who were laid to rest today. wolf? >> don lemon watching this story, doing a very, very excellent job for us. don, thank you. thank you so much. a lot of tough conversations here in newtown, connecticut, today. many of these conversations so, so painful, as so many students who went back to school faced their fears after the shooting
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massacre. we're learn gruesome new details about the way the shooter, adam lanza, and his mother, nancy, died. she was in her pajamas when he killed her. and in the wake of this tragedy, a fierce new push for gun control from a club no one wanted to join. >> i'm the father of daniel mauzner who was killed in the massacre at columbine high school. >> our daughter, jessica redfield ghawi was killed in aurora on july 20th of this year. i'm wolf blitzer, reporting from newtown, connecticut. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. right now, police are working around the clock to solve the mystery of why the 20-year-old adam lanza gunned down 20 students and six educators in this small town. we're learning about details
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from the investigation. our national correspondent, deborah feyerick, has more. >> reporter: wolf, investigators are getting closer. however, they have yet to understand the exact motive. police investigators return to the home of the gunman tuesday. investigators are having a hard time retrieving data from a badly damaged computer found inside the house, according to a law enforcement source, because the hard drive was shattered. not only does it appear adam lanza tried to erase his digital footsteps, he shot the only witness who could have most fully explained what was going on inside him. his mother, nancy, shot four times in the head, as she slept in her bed, likely early friday, the autopsy shows. under the terms of her 2009 divorce agreement, she was the one responsible for paying her son's psychiatric or psychological expenses, plus costs of any prescription medication not covered by insurance. the medical examiner's waiting for the results of the toxicology tests performed on
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adam lanza to see if he was on any medications or drugs that may have potentially triggered the deadly rampage. the medical examiner also working with investigators to determine if lanza was correctly diagnosed with asperger's or whether anyone else was at play. a family friend, who had worked on the lanza home, tells cnn, nancy lanza had pushed hard to mainstream her son, mixing him in with other students, apparently unsuccessfully. the friend says while he was in the home earlier this year, he did see adam lanza, but lanza refused to engage in any sort of conversation or even make eye contact. it appears as there's no record of adam lanza from 2009 on. that was the last time he was registered in any sort of class. the last sighting, a couple of months ago, back at a shooting range where his mom took him, because he didn't want to leave him alone. wolf? >> deborah feyerick, thanks very much. a very small step back to normal today. most of the newtown students, they returned to school for the first time since the massacre
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with police standing guard. kate balduan is here watching what's going on. you have some new information about this return to school? >> return to school for the sandy hook elementary school students. in a letter to both family and staff, the school superintendent said that they will not be returning to class until after the holiday, in january. there had been some questions this week on when they would. in that letter, the school superintendent, janet robinson wrote this in part, wolf. she wrote, "we need to tend to our teachers' and students' needs to feel comfortable after this trauma in this new place." in the meantime, some 50, 75 people have been working around the clock in this new building, it's chalk hill middle school, they're converting entitle sandy hook elementary school. and we have a picture to show our viewers what they're doing and the progress they're making. they're replicating the sandy hook classrooms down to the desks that the students had at sandy hook, even down to the crayon boxes and the materials they had in the desks at the
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time. and we're showing that picture to really show the progress that they are making. we spoke with a fire marshal wolf, today and he said monroe will be ready to hand over the building to newtown officials later this week. and of course, when students do return to this new building to start back, the new sandy hook, is what we can call it, they can rest assured this will be one of the most secured schools in the state, at the very least, because they will have police both inside and out. >> and it's only about seven miles away from here? >> it's a short distance. it's a school that had been closed last year, due to declining enrollment in that town. people call it a godsend that they had this building really ready to go and they're just upgrading things that they need to get ready for an elementary school. >> and we're talking nearly 600 kids, grades kindergarten through fourth grade, who had attended the sandy hook. >> and it's absolutely fine. this facility, i believe they told me it fits 700 students in this facility. they can easily fit in the elementary school students. as soon as the fire marshal signs off on the new security
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systems, the door locks, fire alarms, sprinklers, that kind of thing. >> good information. we wish all these students the best and their parents as well. now let's see how that first day back at school went for a lot of these students here in newtown, connecticut. cnn's mary snow has been covering this part of the story for us. mary, update our viewers. >> reporter: and you know, wolf, in talking about the efforts to open that new school for the sandy hook students, we've seen trucks moving though supplies, but there were about 5,500 students in this school district. and today the district opened its doors, schools opened their doors for the first time since friday's tragedy. school buses rolling once again, as newtown struggles to resume a sense of normalcy. but it is anything but normal. funerals were held nearby. police presence was stepped up. cameras fixed on this grief-stricken town. in the midst of it, some parents welcomed getting back to a
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routine in the classroom. >> it's exactly what the kids need after such a, you know, a terrible tragedy. a lot of them do know what's going on, and they need somewhere to, you know, get their thoughts -- >> can we go inside now? >> -- back to the fun stuff. >> reporter: but it also meant that other students who had been shielded by what happened will now return and perhaps hear about the grim events that happened at sandy hook elementary school. >> when i picked my daughter up from school on friday, the first words out of her mouth were, pa, why are you picking me up? we were having such a great day. and i need to thank the teachers and the staff for doing their best to shield my child from what happened. >> before returning to class, schools encourage parents to talk with their kids about
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friday's horrific shootings, saying the staff can't control what children hear from others. >> when a crisis like this happens -- >> reporter: wendy davenson is a grief counselor in newtown who's been advising parents on how to talk to their kids. >> children don't need details. all they need to know is a fact. that a bad thing happened, people were killed, and we are making our schools very safe and this doesn't happen very, very often, and we are working that it never will happen again. >> reporter: and to prepare for students returning, the district met with school staff from bus drivers to teachers on monday. a crisis intervention expert spoke to them. among the things he cautioned about, the dangers of getting too emotional in front of children. something davenson says can be overwhelming for the kids. >> that's terrifying for children, because we are supposed to be the strength for them. we provide security and safety and predictability. and if the teachers fall apart, that's going to scare them.
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>> reporter: and wolf, as you can imagine, the counselors are on hand for students, staff, and also parents. wolf? >> reporter: mary, thanks very much, mary snow, reporting. >> thank you, mary. still ahead, the white house is getting specific for the first time about the president's promise to do something about gun violence. also, a loving tribute to a substitute teacher who died doing what she loved. lauren russeau's boyfriend shares her memories.
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after this horrible tragedy, calls for changes to gun control laws. they are certainly growing louder and louder. and until just a few hours ago, the national rifle association had been largely silent since friday morning. but in a statement this afternoon, the group now says this -- "out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer, and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. the nra is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." that statement from the nra and they say they'll have a full-scale news conference friday. >> the nra will be holding a news conference on friday, as wolf says. and no doubt the staunchly anti-gun control group will try to make its voice heard by lawmakers. before last week's appalling violence hear in newtown, gun control was on almost really no one's agenda in washington, but that might be changing at this
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point. cnn's white house correspondent, brianna keilar has been looking into this. so brianna, we have heard talk of gun control measures before. what's different this time around? >> reporter: the sense, kate, is that this is different. president obama has been criticized now for days, because of gun control advocates for being too vague about how he wants to tackle this problem. now the white house is detailing some of the things that president obama wants to do. today, for the first time, the white house got specific on how the president will tackle gun violence. >> is he right now actively considering measures, be it gun laws or mental health measures, right now? >> well, he is actively supportive of, for example, senator feinstein's stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban. >> reporter: the white house says the president would also like to close the gun show loophole, ban high-capacity
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ammunition clip, and look at measures that address mental health. critics have charged the president with failing to lead on gun violence, even as republican supporters of gun rights, like ohio congressman, steve latourette, say it's time to find a bipartisan solution. >> i think most republicans are willing to have a very serious conversation about what this means and they're taking a second look at what the second amendment means in the 21st century. >> reporter: did the president feel like he was behind all of this? >> i think you're trying to turn this into like a political theater thing. it's not how the president views it. >> but the president is appearing to act more aggressively on the issue. he called west virginia senator joe manchin, a pro-gun rights democrat, who once showed in his own campaign ad, shooting the cap and trade bill pushed by president obama. >> i'll take dead aim at the cap and trade bill. >> reporter: he now says it's time to act on gun violence. the president met with members of his cabinet monday afternoon. vice president joe biden,
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education secretary, arne dun n duncan, health and assume services secretary, kathleen sebelius, and eric holder, a demonstration of the comprehensive approach the president wants to take in combatting the problem. observers of this debate say president obama could exert his executive authority and bypass congress to go it alone on certain things like better sharing of information between federal, state, and local law enforcement on potentially illegal gun sales. things like restricting the sale of certain military-style weapons, wolf. of course, the assault weapons ban, that is something that he would need to cooperate with congress on, wolf. >> brianna keilar over at the white house, thanks very much for that report. by the way, a connecticut congressman who was just elected to the united states senate is very emotional about this massacre in his district. that's understandable. he's standing by to talk with us. we'll speak with him when we come back. trees, like our tender snow crab paired with savory garlic shrimp. just $12.99.
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connecticut's congressional delegations sponsored a vigil, a vigil for the victims here in newtown, connecticut. also, democratic representative chris murphy went to the floor
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of the house of representatives to give an emotional speech, thanking his colleagues for their support and praising the people of newtown. >> the closeness of newtown makes it hurt more, but the closeness of newtown will also make us heal as well. >> congressman murphy is joining us from washington right now. he'll be leaving the house next year to take up his new job as a just senator from connecticut. and as you just told us, senator-elect, you'll also be heading back here to connecticut very soon to grieve with many folks here. thanks for taking the time to be withes you. >> well, thanks for being there. >> go ahead. >> how do you think your community here, and i know your congressional district represents the community here in newtown, how do you think they're holding up? >> well, listen, i think there's been a blankness to a lot of the faces in newtown. you've seen it. people are just trying to understand this. that being said, you know, there's so many resources that have come to town, whether it be
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grief counselors or people to help get the students back to school. i mean, people do feel a sense of love coming from connecticut, coming from their community and coming from the whole nation and i hope they felt a little bit of that last night when the house of representatives stopped to honor the victims. but this is going to be a very long process. i was at the first funeral of so many on monday, and the little twin sister of noah pozner hasn't quite grasped yet that she had lost her brother. and you imagine that over the coming weeks and months, there are going to be people who finally start to realize this hurt. even when the tv cameras leave newtown, we're going to need a lot of help and a lot of support to help people who are going to be grieving over a very long time. >> i know you were being briefed on the investigation. do you have a better sense of why this shooter, this killer, went to the sandy hook elementary school? >> i don't. i'm learning at the same time that everyone else is.
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and i think a lot of people in sandy hook are asking those questions of why. and some people have asked the state police, well, why are you spending so much time on the motive if you already know who the killer is? you're not preparing for a trial. but people want to get as much information here as they can. they're not going to get answers to all of these whys, but if we can get a little bit better view into this motive, i think it will allow people to rest a little bit easier having all that information at their fingertips, if it exists. >> i want to read you a letter that one of your constituents sent to you, as well as to senator blumenthal. he's also the neighbor of the shooting victim, ann marie murphy. in part, he wrote this to you in the letter. he said, "the people of your state have been assaulted and murdered. we demand that you take leadership in pursuing new gun control legislation. be the leader that this country is sorely lacking. have the courage to stand up for those kids that were murdered." what do you say to him? what has this tragedy -- how has
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this tragedy changed your views? >> i say this, that my priorities as connecticut's next u.s. senator changed on friday. i am now going to spend my time as connecticut's newest u.s. senator leading the fight to combat gun violence. i'm going to be standing with dianne feinstein and with joe manchin and with mark warner to pass an assault weapons ban. i'm going to be leading a conversation about how we combat the rising culture of violence in this country. you know, my tenure as a united states senator from connecticut changed on friday and i'm going to answer that call. right now, i'm spending most of my time with my constituents in newtown, grieving. but i am going to be a leader to make sure that the memories of those 26 people do not go on in vain. that they have a senator and that they have people in washington who are going to make sure that we do everything within our power to make sure that this doesn't befall any other community, anywhere else in this country. >> you know, there have been a few republican governors, bob mcdonnell of virginia, for
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example, congressman, who floated the idea that school officials, perhaps, should be armed. and not just police officers who may be at schools, but school officials. is that a good idea? >> it's a ridiculous notion. the fact is that newtown did everything right. they had prepared for emergency drills. they executed them with perfection. they had a security system, that frankly wasn't going to hold up against someone with that kind of weaponry. our focus should be on keeping these kind of dangerous assault weapons out of his hands. making sure that nobody can walk in with 30 rounds in a clip and trying to prevent the tragedy in the first place. the answer is not to arm america and arm america's schools. the answer is to try to get the guns out of the hands of people who would do this kind of violence. we've got to look in a totally different direction than where some of these people are trying to point ous. >> congressman murphy, thanks so much for joining us. good luck. this is going to be a tough
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assignment for you and a tough assignment for everyone here. i think i speak for all of us. we've been thoroughly impressed by the people in newtown who could not have been warmer and more welcoming and have been excellent in dealing with the enormity of this crisis. congressman and senator, thanks very much. >> thank you very much. still ahead, as newtown buries some of its children, a glimpse at the hard road ahead from parents who lost sons and daughters in other mass killings. just going to a friend's wedding and watching her dance with her father, there's no way to stop the tears. >> to know what we're never going to have those simple joys, ever again. sts cell health plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+.
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the tragedy here in newtown hits painfully close to home for so many families scarred by other mass shootings. some of them went to washington today to try to help push for new gun laws. lisa sylvester is picki ining u this part of the story. lisa? >> wolf, these families, they all have a message. they have been through hell and they want gun violence to stop. one dad who lost his son in columbine wore the very shoes his son was wearing that day. others brought pictures of their loved ones and they all have their own deeply heartbreaking stories. >> i'm the father of daniel mauser, who was killed in the massacre at columbine high school. >> my sister was a freshman at virginia tech. she followed me there. >> our daughter, jessica redfield ghawi was killed in aurora on july 20th of this year.
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>> reporter: a club no one wanted to join. each one directly touched by gun violence. columbine, aurora, virginia tech, tucson. peter reid's daughter was a freshman at virginia tech. >> god forgive us as a country if it takes a literal slaughter of innocents in a holy season to wake us up. >> reporter: the slaying of 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds in newtown, connecticut, has been described as a game changer in the debate over gun control. the brady campaign to prevent gun violence invited families to washington to press congress to renew the ban on assault weapons and pass other gun control measures. >> the only place that this is a contentious political debate is in that building behind us. and there's a disconnect between what the american public wants on this issue and what our electelect ed officials are doing about it. >> reporter: the national rifle association put out a statement saying, "we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in newtown.
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out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer, and a full investigation of the facts before commenting." the nra is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. friday morning, andre put his young son, who he calls bear, on the school bus, headed for sandy hook elementary school. >> he was a classroom helper. he was sent from his classroom to turn in attendance sheets the to the principal's office. he and another little kid. together they went into hallway, and when they were nearing the principal, the principal's office, they heard gunshots, miss clemens, which who we'll ever be thankful for and will never be enough, she pulled them in her own classroom and barricaded the door. >> reporter: his son survived, but 20 other children did not.
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>> why our politicians are not doing something about this problem? i think they are too deep in their partisan bs. >> jessica ghawi died in the aurora movie theater shooting. her parents say they feel a pain that is beyond words. >> just going to her friend's wedding and watching her dance with her father, there's no way to stop the tears. >> to know that we're never going to have those simple joys, ever again. >> and those stories are so, incredibly heartbreaking. a number of conservatives in congress have also said, you know, maybe it's time we take a look at this issue again. the national rifle association has been lying low for the most part, since this incident, but the nra announced today that it will have a news conference on friday. wolf? >> thanks very much, lisa, for that report. today, connecticut's governor signed a proclamation declaring
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this coming friday a day of mourning in the state. he's requesting that residents statewide participant in a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. that's about the same time that adam lanza showed up at the school and started shooting. today, i spoke with a man who's become the public face of the investigation, of the sandy hook school shooting. the connecticut state police lieutenant, paul vance. lieutenant vance, in your 39-year career, how do you prepare for the enormity of a tragedy like this? >> training. training. constant, constant training. things you hope you never will have to use. just like the sidearm that i wear, you hope you'll never have to use it. you have to train, you have to prepare. because when you get to a scene or a situation, even a scene of this magnitude, you have to act. and there's no time. >> because you have emerged as the chief spokesman.
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you're telling not only people here, but all over the world, what's going on. it must take a toll on you. >> it does. but our training prepares us to work through those issues, to go through something like this is devastating. it's truly devastating, because we're only human. and we think about the families, we think about these children, we think about the people who lost their lives. we think about the teachers that protected their children. and all those things you process, but you have to shove it aside and move forward and do what you're trained to do. >> and you met with these families, of these 26 victims, 20 kids, six educators. that must be one of the most difficult things you've ever done in your life. >> i was part of it, but quite frankly the people who were assigned to work with them, the one on ones, if you will, the interviewers that had to interview people, those are very, very hard jobs, are very hard things to do. there are so many people that
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played such a major role in this whole situation, that it's really spread out amongst many. >> was there -- i know the whole thing has been painful. it's been pacinful for all of u that have been here. was there one moment that stands out in your mind that you'll never forget the rest of your life? >> i think the crime scene itself is something that has made an indelible mark in all of our minds. if you were tasked with that responsibility of going into that crime scene, it's something that we will never be able to erase. >> you mean, when you walked into that sandy hook elementary school and you saw the bodies of little kids on the floor? >> that's right, yes. >> how do you -- how can you even -- that must be so shocking, that must be so traumatic? >> it's an indelible mark. it's never going to go away. >> you've never saw anything like that before in your life? >> no. >> i mean, you've been to a lot of crime scenes. this was the most horrific?
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>> definitely. >> by far? >> definitely. >> so let's look ahead now. we want to make sure this doesn't happen again. it will happen again. you know that. i know that. what can we do to reduce the chances of this happening again? >> well, i think everyone's looked at this scene, this situation. we've always prepared, even when we were younger, for fire drills. we prepared for emergencies within the school. i think that's a constant thing that we're always going to do in our educational system. we review, we look at it, we continue to make sure how we can make our most precious children as safe as we can make them. we have to, we worked through 9/11 and we continued and life went on. i don't want to simplify anything, but we've got to work through this. >> we need a national commission to take a look at school safety? >> that's above me.
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that's above me. i know that on a local level, i'm sure our town leaders, our state leaders are all going to continuously look at school safety to ensure that our children are safe. >> lieutenant vance, let me thank you for what you and all the men and women of the county state police have done. you've been a source of real strength to all of us, as journalists and as americans, as citizens, in learning what's going on. you've done an outstanding job. >> thank you very much. appreciate that. >> thank you. >> he has been very strong and very much the face, throughout this entire ordeal. >> i spent some quality time over at the connecticut state police headquarters about 40 minutes or so from here. a very decent guy. >> a very, very good guy. stand by for more of our coverage on the connecticut shooting, as well as some of the other top stories today, including a reporter's hostage ordeal in syria. nbc's richard engle is sharing his story. ok nyquil, but i'm still "stubbed" up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] it doesn't have a decongestant.
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a team of nbc news journalists is finally safe and free after being held by kidnappers in syria. ivan watson has the latest details from turkey. >> reporter: wolf, the looks on the nbc news team say it all.
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the looks of relief, smiles, and exhaustion as well after a harrowing five-day ordeal inside syria, after being kidnapped by men on a roadside, a gang of men with guns, just about ten minutes' drive into syrian territory last week. take a listen to what nbc news foreign correspondent richard engle says about how they were treated during this time in captivity. >> they took us to a series of safe houses and interrogation places and they kept us blindfolded, bound. we weren't physically beaten or tortured. it was a lot of psychological torture. threats of being killed. they made us choose which one of us would be shot first. and when we refused, there were mock shootings. they pretended to shoot gazi several times. and when you are bind folded -- and then they fire the gun up in the air, it can be very traumatic experience.
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>> wolf, richard engle says that he was being held by a pro-government shibaha militia made up of men that he and his other captives identified as shiite muslims who threatened to kill the majority in that part of syria. they were also trying to exchange the nbc news team for captive iranian and lebanon citizens in the custody of syrian rebels. the only way that the nbc news team escaped was after their captors ran into a syrian rebel checkpoint late monday night. a gun battle ensued. two of the kidnappers were killed, and the syrian rebels rescued the nbc news team. they are out, safe and sound, unharmed. but there are many more people who are still missing inside syria, wolf. it has been a plague of kidnapping and hostage taking there. there are no less than 21 journalists and 18 other citizen journalists currently missing,
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according to the organization reporters without borders. many ordinary syrians being held for ransom as law and order continues to break down in that war-torn country. wolf? >> ivan watson, thanks very much. and it underscores, kate, just how dangerous these assignments are. you know, so happy that these nbc journalists got out. >> so, so thankful that they got out, wolf. you're so right. other stories that we are watching today. on capitol hill, a deal could be taking shape to avoid the fiscal cliff, now just two weeks away. our lisa sylvester is here with that and more of today's top stories. hey there, lisa. >> hi, there, wolf and kate. well, as americans edge ever closer to huge tax hikes and deep automatic spending cuts, both sides are offering compromises today. house speaker john boehner proposed a short-term plan, higher tax rates on millionaires, but the white house and democratic leaders say that doesn't go far enough. president obama is standing firm on higher rates for people earning more than $250,000 a year.
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and the woman who had an affair with former cia director david petraeus will not face federal cyberstalking charges. paula broadwell was under investigation for sending allegedly harassing, anonymous e-mails to tampa socialite jill kelly, a friend of petraeus and his wife. in november, petraeus resigned as cia director after revealing his affair. sources tell cnn, though, that broadwell still could face charges for possessing classified material. and the photo-sharing website instagram and warning users that starting next year, it may sell photos to other companies and keep all of the cash. the change in the terms of use explains users won't be compensated in any way. users cannot opt out of the new provisions and the only way to avoid them is to delete your instagram account altogether. and there is good news at the gas pump and it may be getting even better. the average price of regular self-serve gasoline in the u.s. is now $3.24 a gallon.
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the price has fallen every day for almost a month and experts say it could fall to levels not seen in two years. analysts credit in part better fuel economy and more telecommuting. kate and wolf? >> thanks so much, lisa. >> thanks very much. at cnn, we're very concerned about respecting the privacy of people who lost loved ones here in newtown and are very, very concerned about that. but some relatives and friends are eager to speak out and to talk, to make sure the world knows who these victims were and why they were so loved. cnn's erin burnett is joining us now with a little preview of what you have coming up in the next hour. what do you have, erin? >> there are some people who do want to talk. and as you well know, talk about this community and how it feels and how tight-knit it is and how they don't want it to become a name that becomes synonymous with a horrible act. we're going to be talking with one dad who has four kids. a 4-year-old, actually, who's about to go to sandy hook next year, and he is dead set that that child is going to go to sandy hook. and it's pretty amazing. he and his wife moved here from
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california. number one reason, for the schools. he's going to join us to talk about that. his older sons was brothers with jack pinto's brother and they were at that funeral yesterday. they're going to talk about that. vickie soto was a teacher for one of his daughters, she was a substitute a few years ago when his daughter was there, but so memorable, that her daughter still remembers her. we'll be talking with them, and also with the family who moved here from newtown from australia. reason number one, they thought it was the safest town in america, reason number two, for schools. their two boys just went back to school today and their whole family will be with us at the top of the hour. so a special program coming up. >> we've heard this many, many times, just how great the school system is here. and will continue to be, of course, after this. >> you've been doing a great job with these personal stories, erin. we're really looking forward to the next hour. thanks so much for what you're doing. >> thank you. >> thank you, erin. a mother whose daughter died in her first grade classroom describes meeting president obama. what she shared with the president and what she says she prayed for with him. anderson cooper sat down with
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her. he'll join us live. that's next.
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certainly impossible to imagine the pain of some of these parents here in newtown, connecticut, are feeling right
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now. facing the fact that they must bury their 6-year-old or 7-year-old child. our own anderson cooper is here for us on the scene. anderson, you sat down with the family of grace mcdonnell and have more of that touching interview coming up. share some of it with our viewers. >> reporter: you know, it was lynn and chris mcdonnell. their daughter, grace, 7 years old, was killed on friday. they have a son, jack, who's 12 years old. and they actually contacted us. they reached out to us the other day and asked us to come by their home and just spend some time with them and learn about grace and they wanted a lot of people to know about their amazing grace. and so we're going to be bringing you that extensive interview tonight on "a.c. 360." but i want to play you just a little bit of what they said. they talked about meeting president obama the other night. and grace was a prolific artist. she was, for 7 years old, she was incredibly talented artist. and she drew a picture of an owl and they gave that picture to the president.
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and he said he would cherish it. and that really gave them comfort, that the president would take time to learn about their daughter. here's more o of what they had to say. >> it was a very private meeting, but when he walked in the room to greet us, it was just a dad. he's just a dad, coming in to meet a dad and a mom and a son. and we really felt that. we felt his support and it was really, it was really special. and we shared some special things about grace with him and her art. grace's dream was to live on the beach and be a painter. and so we offered him one of her paintings, which he said he would treasure. so that gave us great comfort, too. but, really, just felt like a dad surrounding us and feeling our pain. and you know, when he walked in the room, i realized, he has to go to so many families today, and this is not the first time he's had to do this.
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so, i have to look at him and pray for him for strength. >> they, of course, weren't able to see grace in the wake of the attack. they were advised not to view her. but when they went in to visit with her and the casket, the casket was all white, and it really brought home to them the reality of what was happening. and they brought crayons and magic markers, and lynn and chris and jack drew all over the casket. and they wanted to color it all, and all the things that grace loved. peace signs and flip-flops, and reminders of hawaii and other places they had visited. and they said by the time they left the the entire casket was colored, and that also has given them comfort and grace, they are going to be remembering grace, a wake on thursday, a funeral on friday. but it's amazing how strong they are and we'll be playing more of that interview tonight, wolf. >> they really reached out to you, anderson, because they want
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the world to know how wonderful grace was. they want to share that story with everyone. and it's not all that unusual, because a lot of times parents who lose someone in a situation like this, i remember at virginia tech, they want to speak out and express how much they loved their child. >> you know, it helps to talk. it helps to talk, it helps lynn to talk and it helps chris to talk and even jack, 12-year-old jack, who obviously we didn't interview on camera, it helps him to talk about grace. so even before we sat down for the interview, i spent a lot of time there honestly just hugging and holding hands with them and just looking at all the pictures of grace and hearing the stories about her. i think it really, it does help them to talk and to let other people know about their beautiful little girl. >> every one of these stories we cover, anderson, is unique and distinctive. i don't know about you, but for me, i never really experienced anything like this, because
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these 20 kids were 6 and 7 years old, all of these. the teachers and them, it's been so powerful, so awful for me. i'm sure it's been like that for you as well. >> i feel privileged to be here. i think there is an extraordinary sense of this community coming together, extraordinary support for these families that are facing the unimaginable, and you know, it's not just, wolf, you know, this past weekend and today and this week, when the funerals are going to be taking place. a lot of this, when the media leaves and when the world's attention kind of moves on, life for people here has stopped. the world has stopped. and though the rest of the world may keep spinning, it will not keep spinning here in newtown. i think for these families, that's going to be another hurdle when the adrenaline kind of fades away and they're left with just the day-to-day horror of the reality of their loved one not being with them.
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>> see you in a little more than an hour from now, anderson. thanks so much for doing this. thanks so much for what you've been doing. a popular tv show pays tribute to the newtown, connecticut victims. this is something that is very, very moving. we'll share it with you when we come back. g such a great year in the gulf, we've decided to put aside our rivalry. 'cause all our states are great. and now is when the gulf gets even better. the beaches and waters couldn't be more beautiful. take a boat ride or just lay in the sun. enjoy the wildlife and natural beauty. and don't forget our amazing seafood. so come to the gulf, you'll have a great time. especially in alabama. you mean mississippi. that's florida. say louisiana or there's no dessert. brought to you by bp and all of us who call the gulf home. progressive direct and other car insurance companies? yes. but you're progressive, and they're them. yes. but they're here. yes. are you...? there? yes. no. are you them? i'm me. but those rates are for... them. so them are here. yes!
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young survivors of the school shooting are getting therapy and they are getting some comfort in a rather unusual way. here's cnn's gary tuchman. >> reporter: nine golden retrievers on the march. making their way into a recreation center in newtown, connecticut, for an emotional rescue, to help comfort the children who survived the attack at sandy hook elementary and other children in town. therapeutic canines were sponsored and trained by lutheran church charities, transported in a van for a 900 mile ride from illinois. let me give you a quick introduction to all the dogs here. this is chewie. this is ruthie. abby. prince. luther. maggie. hannah. barney. and shammy.
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these are the comfort dogs. what is a comfort dog? >> a comfort dog is one who brings comfort to other people. when they're suffering or hurting or bring happiness to people, helps people process their grief. >> reporter: they are specially trained? >> they are specially trained. these are all trained service dogs. we don't use them with disabled but we use that training and then we train them additionally to work with all different age groups and people. to some people, we have seen this with children, it brings a sense of calmness in a time of confusion for them, during this period. to some, it helps them process their grief. they'll start crying and they'll hug the dog. and to some children, they'll come up sad and they'll walk away happy. >> reporter: do you know that luther is incapable of being mean. luther is a friendly dog. >> hayden loves dogs. >> reporter: when does training begin to be a comfort dog? >> five and a half weeks. we buy puppies at five and a
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half weeks, turn them upside down -- >> reporter: turn them upside down. if they are turned upside down and they flail, they can't be a comfort dog? >> right. our initial screening is if they can be relaxed in that position, then we start the next process which is a trainer that works with them one-on-one for the next eight months to a year. >> reporter: where else have your dogs been? what other disasters? >> our dogs a month ago when sandy hit, we were out in new york and new jersey. we have been in indiana with the floodings. we had dogs out in joplin, missouri. this is luther. he's a comfort dog. you can pet him. says right here, please pet me. >> reporter: how do you feel when you see a child come up to one of your dogs who has been in this kind of situation, have a big smile on their face? >> tears. they smile, i cry. >> reporter: amid the continuing sadness here, there were a lot of smiles. >> what a story.
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erin burnett "outfront" starts in just a moment. but we leave you this hour with this very powerful musical tribute to the victims, tribute that aired on the nbc show "the voice." ♪ i've heard there was a secret code that david played and it pleased the lord but you don't really care for music do you ♪ ♪ it goes like this hallelujah ♪ ♪ hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah ♪